When you believe you have an abundant supply of resources (like air), you don’t worry whether or not it will run out – unless your supply is threatened. What if air was so heavily polluted that you needed an oxygen tank to survive? And what if there were only a limited number of oxygen tanks available? Air suddenly becomes valuable. Its scarcity generates fear because there might not be enough for everyone.
Your perceptions shape your beliefs, attitude, words, and behavior. If you have an abundance mentality, you expect to find whatever you need whenever you need it. However, if you have a scarcity mentality – if you believe there are limited resources, money, opportunities, etc. – you feel threatened and nervous about your lack of options.
Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, believed most people possess a scarcity mentality. He explained, “They see life as having only so much, as though there were only one pie out there. And if someone were to get a big piece of the pie, that would mean less for everybody.”
John C. Maxwell, motivational speaker and leadership expert, adds that those with a scarcity mentality fear losing what little they have and believe they must protect it. They find it difficult to share with others. They are often jealous or resentful when others experience success.
An abundance mentality flows from a deep sense of personal self-worth and security. Those with an abundance vision believe there is plenty of room at the universal table and more than enough to share with everyone. Where scarcity beliefs only manifest limitations and lack, abundance mentality welcomes possibilities and new opportunities.
Covey argued that those crippled with a scarcity mentality believe they must compete for everything – even when everything is readily available to them. They don’t see beyond their lack because their perceptions are distorted. On a social level, scarcity thinking leads to fear and suspicion. You feel threatened. You feel unsafe. You believe you must be on guard and protect yourself at all times because others will hurt you or take what rightfully belongs to you.
Maxwell asserts, “Leaders who allow a scarcity mindset to work its way into their culture pay a high price.” The author of How Successful People Think explains, “When resources (money, opportunity, recognition, etc.) are perceived to be limited, paranoia, fear and politics thrive.”
When a scarcity mentality permeates a community, people become anxious and lose faith in one another. They no longer see possibilities because they’re focused on dangers around them. They want to protect what little they have. Statements such as “We can’t welcome outsiders because they take away opportunities that belong to us” are an example of scarcity mentality.
Strong leaders possess an abundance mentality. Their vision of prosperity and opportunities for all encourage confidence among others.
The most effective way you and I can build an abundant mentality in our communities is by individually committing to abundant thinking and building a positive, abundant mindset. Maxwell offers these suggestions to nurture abundant mentality:
Express gratitude to others. Let others know how much you value them. Your happiness will increase in direct proportion to the appreciation you show others. Maxwell believes an attitude of gratitude is the most effective way to create a more abundant life.
Look for opportunities. Challenges are matters of perception. You can view challenges as obstacles that block you from experiencing joy and success – or directional arrows that point you to new opportunities. You quickly find opportunities when you believe they are available to you.
Remind yourself that there is more than enough. As Covey said, there is enough pie to go around. We live on a richly abundant planet. Create a personal mantra: Say “There is plenty for everyone. There is plenty for me. There is plenty for me to share.” Mike Dooley, author of Infinite Possibilities: The Art of Living Your Dreams, says, “Thoughts become things. Choose the good ones.”
Surround yourself with positive people. I once saw these words on a poster: “You are the average of the five people with whom you spend the most time.” Maxwell insists, “Mindsets are contagious.” Find a tribe with individuals who share your interests and optimistic attitude – or the optimistic mindset you want to adopt. Find a mentor. Build a support system.
Spend time in quiet reflection. Remind yourself every day of the positive blessings that fill your life. Give thanks for all of those to whom you feel grateful. Imagine all of the wonderful opportunities that are available to you. As you pray or meditate, be open to divine guidance. Repeat positive affirmations that build your confidence.
Give more of what you want. Maxwell encourages others to “be a river, not a reservoir.” Look for opportunities to volunteer and be of service to others. Scarcity thinking leads to selfishness. Service reflects a sense of abundance.
The most powerful words that reflect an abundance mentality are found on the Statue of Liberty. In 1883, Emma Lazarus wrote:
Give me your tired, your poor.
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
These words welcomed immigrants looking for refuge as they passed through Ellis Island to a new home in the United States. If we possess abundant thinking, we believe there is plenty available and plenty to be shared.
It is easy to criticize leaders. However, all of us are leaders. Maxwell concludes,
“Leadership is influence—nothing more, nothing less. We influence the people around us wherever we are.”
An attitude of abundance does more than lift your spirits – it transforms you. You become a role model. Like the Statue of Liberty, you carry a torch that inspires others.
What can you do to deepen an abundance mentality?
If your confidence needs a boost, find inspiring suggestions from Stand Tall With Confidence.
Gratitude is transformative. Try these tips from How to Feel Gratitude (Even If You Don’t Want To).
A positive attitude is a choice. Choose optimism and read 8 Ways to Feel More Positive.
Stop worrying about what others think. Read Why You Need a Definite Chief Aim and focus on your own direction.
When you can’t find words to life your spirits, discover inspiration from Inspirational Quotes When You Need Hope.